George "Doc" Belshaw

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  • "My Beloved George: You and Etha both gave me great joy..."
    - Leila Dixon (Galinkin)
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George Belshaw, 101, of Bozeman passed away Jan. 27, 2009. Strong, determined, honorable, loyal, kind, and cheerful: George "Doc" Belshaw was all of these.

He was born in Deadwood, S.D. The family soon moved to Garnet, Mont., where his father hauled timbers to the gold mines. George worked a trap line when he was 13. When he was 14, the family moved to Lake Country, Indiana.

An event in 1928 changed the course of his life. He and his brother, Edwin (a year younger), were wrestling with a YMCA team against a superior Indiana University team. Both were recruited to IU on wrestling scholarships. Both became champions and team captains. In 1932 George was honored as IU's top senior athletic and academic achievement. That year IU won its first NCAA championship. Two days before the meet, George, undefeated for the season, was severely stricken with the flu. He literally got out of bed to compete on sheer determination and carried the match into overtime before losing to the eventual champion.

At IU George fell in love with Etha Lomatsch. They were wed in 1933, a year after they both graduated. They had been married for 65 years when Etha passed in 1998.

After college, George was a high school coach in Northwest Indiana. There the family added two sons, Thomas and Terence, and daughter, Vada.

George had always wanted to become a doctor. His chance came in World War II when the Army began an accelerated medical program. When the war ended, his class had not yet graduated. Though he had to work a night factory job for a time, and a fourth son, John, soon was born, George completed medical school and his internship and began practicing in Fairmount, Ind. He then took his family on their first trip through Yellowstone Park and Montana, visiting Garnet, virtually a ghost town (though now restored) where his family's log cabin was still standing.

When the Korean War began, George was too old to be recalled to duty, yet, grateful for the medical education he had been given, he joined the Air Force. In San Antonio, he completed a residency in OB/Gyn, a specialty he chose, he said, because the patients left happy.

After discharge he practiced in central Utah and Columbus, Ind., before settling in Indianapolis. With his kind and supportive manner, George was a "patients' doctor." In the 1950s he was a pioneer in intrauterine blood transfusions.

In the 1970s George and Etha became active in the Baha'i faith.

Retiring in 1979, George and Etha moved to Bozeman, where George, hammer in hand, built the house at 45 Gardner Park Drive he had designed himself. He returned to wrestling as an assistant coach at Montana State and later as a volunteer coach at Montana Tech, which meant commuting the 90 miles between Bozeman and Butte. George loved to hike at least a few miles every fair day, including two-day hikes in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in his late 80s.

George lost his oldest son, Thom (Joan) in 2006.

He is survived by Terry (Carol), Joan, Vada, (Irving) Fasan, and John; 11 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, at Dokken-Nelson Sunset Chapel. Interment will follow in Sunset Hills Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT-trails), National Parks Conservation Association, Partners in Health, and the Rotary Club.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service; www.dokkennelson.com.
Funeral Home
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
(406) 587-3184
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Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 30, 2009
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